Caris LeVert turns down ‘lifetime dream’ of NBA for senior season with Wolverines

Alejandro Zúñiga

Days after Caris LeVert suffered his season-ending foot injury fighting for a rebound against Northwestern, the junior guard received a text message from Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan asking about his future plans.

“I’m coming back,” LeVert replied. “I feel like I have to come back.”

And, although he changed his mind several times during the upcoming months, LeVert eventually stayed true to his initial response, announcing Tuesday that he’ll return for his senior season with the Wolverines.
“I went back and forth over the past couple of months a lot, and I told [teammates] about it,” he said. “They were with me every step of the way; they were really supportive.

“But at the end of the day, my heart was here at Michigan.”

“But at the end of the day, my heart was here at Michigan.”

LeVert told John Beilein of his choice on Monday, and the coach gave his player a hug before asking him to call Mrs. Beilein with the news as well.

“The NBA is a lifetime dream of mine, a lifetime dream of a lot of young basketball players. Just playing against the best players in the world,” LeVert said. “And then, coming back — college is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You get a chance to play alongside your brothers every day. I have a year left, and I think, if I would’ve left, I might have looked back and regretted that decision.”

LeVert was among the first to receive an evaluation from the NBA Draft Advisory Board but chose to resubmit his name for a better estimation of his draft stock. Though LeVert didn’t discuss specifics about the committee’s results, he reiterated Tuesday that he didn’t feel it would have been beneficial to leave Michigan if he were to be drafted in the second round.

“It was a little part of it, but it wasn’t everything,” the guard said.

Most draft predictions have dropped LeVert significantly since tabbing him as a surefire first-rounder earlier this season. Part of that fall may be due to injury concerns; the junior has had surgery to repair stress fractures in his left foot twice since summer of 2014.

He said Tuesday that he’s still on track to make a full recovery from the latest operation and expects to return to the court in a couple of weeks. LeVert, who added he didn’t consider injury risk while making his decision, may also purchase an insurance policy to protect from financial damages should he get hurt again.

“I feel like I’m really young for my class, so coming back wouldn’t hurt me in that aspect of age,” he said. “Everything else is just to be left on the court. As well as I play, I think I can move myself up [draft expectations] as far as I can.”

During the summer, which LeVert will spend working with strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson, the guard hopes to improve his lower-body strength and become a better jump shooter.

He’ll join a deep team featuring a healthy Derrick Walton in the backcourt, Zak Irvin on a wing and a slew of other promising forwards vying for frontcourt time. Their goal, LeVert said, is to win the Big Ten title.

“I think we have a lot of potential coming back, but potential is a dangerous word,” he said. “Going after those goals and going after those expectations will be a challenge.”

The Wolverines took a major step toward accomplishing that with their star guard and co-captain at the helm. While LeVert may have taken his time figuring out his future, the junior expressed his contentment with the decision.

“I’m coming back to win games, to get my degree and be happy,” LeVert said.

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  • psickert1

    Thorthan is no longer on the market he committed to Duke… let’s go hard on Winston, Goofing, Langford and battle!

    I also salute Caris for coming back! Good day for the wolverines.

    • Corperryale

      Totally agree but lol at “Goofing.”

      • psickert1

        Type lol…autocorrect sucks lol

  • Wayman Britt

    Caris thanks for coming back for your senior season. You won’t regret it. Put on another 10 pounds of muscle and you will be a lottery pick.

  • jakelam2116

    Incredibly excited for next season. Beilein’s biggest challenge might be figuring out how to work with all his pieces. He’s never had this much depth!

  • psickert1

    ‘This Levert kid isn’t explosive enough and has no lateral quickness. This is a head scrather. I just don’t see how a former 2* with a broken foot can help us. We should bank that ship for 2019. He just isn’t expolsive. This was a bad move. I will remain pessimistic until his foot heal and he increases his athleticism and speed. He is rather small on the wing for a 6 ft 7 player”

    Says, Matt D and the rest of the naysayers..

    • Corperryale

      I criticize MattD as much the next guy but I don’t think he has been critical of LeVert or his return. He has admittedly been critical of recruits who don’t meet his stratospheric (and yet somewhat shallow) athleticism requirements like Jamal Murray. He is more critical about pulling the trigger earlier than necessary on guys like Austin Davis and that skinny guard from upstate NY. And I can’t say I entirely blame him. To Matt’s credit, he has also championed the Jaylen Brown recruitment since day one.

      • psickert1

        Who is the skinny guard from upstate NYC? Hertaz or how ever you spell his name.

  • Bigrange

    This basically means our 2015 class is what it is. No Jaylon Brown coming to the Wolverines.

    • Anthony

      Paul Biancardi from espn has said its down to Michigan and cal for brown. I have read that if he does hatch will take the medical redshirt.

    • Champswest

      We can take one more. Likely Brown or Williams.

  • Rafteryisinsane

    Caris appears to be a thoughtful, smart kid. I know injuries and draft stock probably dominated the decision to stay, but there are worse thing in the world than getting a degree from U-M. (Quite a few, in fact.) It seems like he really do something great for himself with the sheepskin if perhaps a long-term NBA career isn’t in the cards.